By this stage in the B2B marketing game, you’ve likely at least thought about adopting an account-based marketing (ABM) pilot program to complement your overall demand generation strategy. 2017 was the year of ABM, and we saw all versions of account-based marketing examples come through our inboxes – some good, some not so good. There are so many different approaches one can take to tackle ABM, but it won’t work without cross-departmental support and collaboration.
So, you finally caved into the peer pressure and committed to testing the ABM waters. Sales and marketing have agreed upon an ABM strategy framework: goals have been set; accounts have been selected, individual roles and accountability are in place; content has been developed; and you’re ready to get your messaging and offers in front of your target accounts. The only thing you’ve yet to figure out – before you go into ABM execution mode – are the tactics you’ll use to engage the buying committee at your target accounts.
Lucky for you, I’ve done my research and gathered some of the best, tried-and-true ABM examples and tactics in the B2B marketing world and compiled them here.
Account-Based Marketing Examples Worth Implementing
1. Engaging Your Target Accounts With Educational Content
Your company’s top-funnel marketing content plays a versatile role in creating demand for your product. In an ABM strategy, using educational content (e.g. informative guides, blog posts, infographics, workbooks, webinars, whitepapers, etc.) to attract target accounts can be a powerful tactic if well-executed.
One of the best ways I’ve seen this done is by recognizing a target account in a blog post. This doesn’t mean just calling out a company or specific person on a whim, but writing about a topic you know they are knowledgeable in and making an affirmational mention acknowledging their expertise.
This is by far one of the most respectful ways to create an introduction with a target buyer because the way the mention is formatted typically compliments an idea or product. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with the target buyer on social media. As a rule of thumb, I like to use Twitter as the first channel for an interaction as it’s a bit more casual, but still delivers the same message: “we saw what you’re doing, and we think it’s valuable enough to publish on our own blog.”
Best case scenario, your target interacts with your content and gives you the opportunity to start a conversation. Worst case scenario, your target doesn’t interact, but likely still sees the content, thus inserting your brand in the back of their minds and subconsciously making them more receptive to future marketing material.
2. Sending Personalized Emails to Target-Account Contacts
This one is definitely the trickiest one of the bunch. If done correctly, personalized email communications to target buyers will be the one of the easiest and most effective ABM tactics you will employ, but if executed in poor taste, will land you in the junk folder with the Nigerian princes.
Say for instance you’ve identified a group of 20 contacts at one of your top accounts who could potentially be involved in the sales cycle for your solution, but your sales team hasn’t been able to effectively engage any of them. One ABM tactic to consider would be to create a small series of emails personalized by role. Each email variation could contain content relevant to that specific person’s challenges as you know them. By passing these email templates to sales, you’re setting them up for success and allowing them to focus on increasing the speed of their sales cycles instead of crafting the perfect email every time they engage with a target account.
The first (and most obvious) thing to understand about emailing your target buyers is that if it’s too personal, it can seem intrusive. It’s better to make sure your email is full of helpful and creative content around known contact concerns, rather than simply trying to show how much you know about the contact personally. The best emails I’ve seen are concise, conversational and relevant. The worst thing you can do is start telling the recipient everything there is to know about your product and the amazing deals going on for one day only. Frankly, it’s a lame tactic and it’s only going to get your email deleted or left unread.
While we’re on the topic, another easy way to kill your ABM email campaign is to spam your target accounts. Sounds obvious, but I see it all the time – I filled out one form on a piece of gated content and suddenly I’m receiving five emails a day with more whitepapers, more special offers and more headaches. This crappy email tactic is only going to lead to mass unsubscribes from your ABM lists, which will prove devastating to a campaign.
3. Leveraging Social Media to Engage Target Accounts…Tactfully
In my opinion, social media is an ABM gold mine. By monitoring social posting, we can gather tons of information about our target buyers without ever having a face-to-face conversation with them. People tend to post about their pain points and challenges, which gives us marketers the opportunity to deliver valuable content at the right time. Liking, commenting, and sharing lets your target accounts know you’re engaged and will increase your credibility by the time you reach out to start a conversation.
One of the most valuable tools I’ve used is the list building feature in Twitter. Simply create a list in your Twitter account, add the usernames of your target accounts and the decision-makers at those accounts, and then monitor what they’re sharing. Find out what type of content they tend to interact with (blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.) and then develop content based on your findings.
Social media interactions set the stage for a more personalized engagement later in the sales cycle. Direct messaging on a social platform is one of the best ways to get yourself noticed early in the game. As with anything, there are right ways to start a direct message chat and there are ridiculously wrong, lazy methods. Don’t be the guy who automatically sends a cheesy pitch as soon as someone follows you – its annoying and will result in the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Really? That was your best line?
4. Working with Partners to Engage Your Target Accounts
What if you’re ready to kickstart a killer account-based marketing campaign, but you’ve never interacted with the decision-makers at your target accounts, you haven’t obtained their contact data and they’re not following you on social media? The greatest asset to your account-based marketing strategy is rich and accurate data on the buying committees at your target accounts. If you don’t have valid info for your target decision-makers, it could mean the premature death of your ABM strategy.
As opposed to purchasing lists of data or scraping the internet trying to figure out their email addresses, effective ABM marketers often work with external media partners who already have relationships with their target accounts. By combining all your great educational content with an account-targeted reach of third-party partners, you can engage and convert the decision-makers who matter the most for your ABM efforts.
5. Implementing a Smart Account-Based Direct Mail Campaign
I know, we live in a tech-savvy world, and direct mail probably isn’t on the top of your ABM to-do list – but hear me out. Direct mail is making a comeback and should be considered as a supporting element of your ABM plan for 2018. There’s a few ways to approach this tactic, all depending on what stage in the engagement game your target account is.
Here’s an ABM example to consider. Sending a personal offer to get your brand on the desk of a target buyer. Think along the lines of a small, personalized note with a specific offer designed for that target account. This does not mean the age-old “10% off if you call me today!!!” offer, but instead something of actual value that you could deliver to your prospect.
Use something along the lines of, “I know you’re struggling to [insert problem you help customers solve]. I’d love to schedule some time with you and discuss the steps we can take together to [insert prospects’ goals].” You can even take direct mail a step further and add a relevant gift. This will increase your wow factor and could possibly set the stage for a social media ‘thanks’ interaction.
Caveat: This shouldn’t be the first or even second step in the execution of your ABM strategy – that could come across as creepy. Direct mail is an account-based marketing tactic best served when specific individuals at target accounts have shown a relatively high degree of engagement with your content and/or brand. For example, if a prospect from a target account has downloaded a couple pieces of content from your website and spoken to a rep from your company during an event, then direct mail may be a good move.
6. Hosting Events Specifically for Your Target Accounts
Ahh, events. My personal favorite. There’s no better way of speeding up the sales cycle than by getting face-to-face with decision-makers at your target accounts and humanizing your product. At Integrate, we tend to take two main approaches to in-person events:
- Hosting large networking events around industry conferences, and
- Planning a series of smaller events in various cities where our target account buyers reside.
Hosting an event around an industry trade show tends to be a much larger undertaking as you will likely have a higher attendance rate since your party population is already onsite. You can attract target accounts to attend your event with the right amount of promotion and a closely integrated plan with your field marketing and sales team to secure attendance. Understanding that these events are typically larger and lean more towards a cocktail reception theme, make sure you have a plan for who your team needs to talk to at the event, and who can wait.
A field marketing roadshow is a budget-friendly way to get in front of as many target accounts as possible throughout the year in various cities. In my experience, when partnering with 3-4 fantastic companies, it’s easy to create a kick-ass event for under $1500 and host about 50-60 prospects. Not to mention the ROI from these events will skyrocket when you’re able to get your target accounts to attend and engage with you in a more intimate setting.
Account-Based Marketing Is a Long-Term, Holistic Strategy
Perfecting your ABM strategy takes time. It will be tough to define which account-based marketing examples and tactics will work best for you in the beginning. So, roll up your sleeves, develop your plan and starting testing.
Arguably the most important point to note when executing your strategy is to make sure you know where the line between personalized and creepy is, and don’t cross it.
If you’re just getting started with your ABM strategy, the Enterprise Playbook to Account-Based Demand Generation includes step-by-step guidance that you can use to get your ABM efforts underway. Grab your copy now.